- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 27, 2004

The D.C. Caribbean Carnival Parade moved slowly along Georgia Avenue yesterday, but the mood stayed festive as spectators waited patiently for the music and spectacle to arrive.

“I don’t mind waiting because when the parade arrives, I know that I will enjoy it. I never miss it, and I tell everybody I know to come out,” said Christine Ready, who waited for hours at Georgia Avenue and Columbia Road across from the judges’ stand.

“I come out every year because I enjoy the music and the dancing. It’s just so colorful and so pretty,” said Ms. Ready, who lives in Northwest.

Another spectator attributed the slow start of the parade to the participants being on “island time,” as she waved the flag of Trinidad and Tobago.

More than 20 troupes in colorful costumes and elaborately jeweled and feathered headdresses strutted down Georgia Avenue, accompanied by sound trucks. Along the route, spectators rattled tambourines, waved national flags and danced as they joined in the merriment celebrating the musical and cultural diversity of the Caribbean islands.

The parade this year marked a return to the Georgia Avenue route. Last year, the Carnival moved to downtown.

“I’m just glad it’s back on Georgia Avenue,” said Ms. Ready. “I went downtown last year, but it’s much friendlier up here.”

Malik Azeez agreed. The Southeast resident said he, too, enjoys the neighborhood feel of the Carnival procession down Georgia Avenue.

“It’s a blessing to have Carnival back here on Georgia Avenue. The vendors were restricted to one place last year, and it didn’t seem to be as vibrant. Here, people are allowed to move around more freely,” said Mr. Azeez, an independent broadcast journalist.

“I attend Carnival because I believe it is a high, cultural celebration,” he said. “I like the music, the dance and the many different themes. Overall, it is a celebration of the culture.”

Nadirah Tillett, a member of “The Women of the Nile” contingent, danced her way down Georgia Avenue with her troupe dressed in gold and black. The Baltimore resident said she wouldn’t miss the event.

“My parents are from the Caribbean, although I was born here. The people are free there — they don’t worry about flaws. The Carnival is about celebration. In the United States when Lincoln freed the slaves, he gave them a job for money. But in the West Indies, when the queen set the slaves free, she gave them an education,” she said.

Loughton Sargeant, 44, the executive director of D.C. Caribbean Carnival Inc., said the festive atmosphere of the Carnival has drawn people to the event since 1993.

“It’s the music, the costumes, the food and the camaraderie,” he said.

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